Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

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Sheldrake
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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Sheldrake » 22 Nov 2021 17:51

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
22 Nov 2021 03:55
Richard Anderson wrote:
21 Nov 2021 23:33
Sheldrake wrote:
21 Nov 2021 22:33
All of this potential application of huge aerial firepower was new to the 8th AF and to the armies and agreed over a period of about six weeks. Frankly I am impressed that they managed what they did.
Good finds, thank you! I am not surprised at the tight timeline. The NEPTUNE planning was completed under a very tight time constraint...essentially less than three months from laying out the initial intent to freezing the planning modifications (except for the last minute change to the 82d A/B drop_.
I once had forty minutes to set up a battery for a schedule of fires. Cant recall how many targets there were, but the time lines covered three pages :|

Given the ongoing missions & other distractions I wonder if the 8th AF had split off one or more separate planning cells.
From the other planning documents the wish list of targets was put together by the Army Corps and consolidated by the Army HQs. This was made easier by the allocation of beaches to corps - one of the consequences of the revised Op Overlord Plan with five rather than three beaches. It looks as if the bombloads were assigned on the proportion of beaches with the US getting 2/5 and the British getting 3/5.

First US Army may not have played a big role in planning the targets. Effectively 9th Air Force was assigned to the VII Corps assault and 8th AF to V Corps. On what basis would First Army claim to know better and overule their choice of targets and actions?

H J Parham did get involved on behalf of Second Army as the two British corps were assaulting side by side on contiguous beaches, but it is clear that the targets were picked by each Corps.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Nov 2021 00:19

That petty much boiler plate for target selection & priority. My question was aimed at 8th AF planning their role in execution. We had a system of discrete planning cells for keeping the staff organized while doing current ops and planning one or more future ops. Given how busy 8AF was that spring I'm wondering if I'd see something recognizable as that in the 8AF staff.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by histan » 29 Nov 2021 13:17

Sorry this is a bit late - I don't normally bother with What-ifs but this one has a discussion of what actually happened!

Here is an extract from the RAF Air Historic Branch study on the liberation of Europe [Vol 3]
ahb Normandy 02.png
The planning was as much driven by the constraints placed on the attack, such as no bombs in the sea and as little cratering as possible, as by any required effects. The bad weather plan was just to "drench" the area with bombs and hope to hit something.

Regards

John
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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Dec 2021 17:00

histan wrote:
29 Nov 2021 13:17
Sorry this is a bit late - I don't normally bother with What-ifs but this one has a discussion of what actually happened!
Given time I'd copy the relevant posts to a thread on the same subjects.

Here is an extract from the RAF Air Historic Branch study on the liberation of Europe [Vol 3]

ahb Normandy 02.png

The planning was as much driven by the constraints placed on the attack, such as no bombs in the sea and as little cratering as possible, as by any required effects. The bad weather plan was just to "drench" the area with bombs and hope to hit something.

Regards

John
Im starting to gather that. The picture painted here is one that would not have fit the training or practice of my peers.

Sheldrake wrote:
22 Nov 2021 17:51
First US Army may not have played a big role in planning the targets. Effectively 9th Air Force was assigned to the VII Corps assault and 8th AF to V Corps. On what basis would First Army claim to know better and overule their choice of targets and actions?
Leaving aside a separate discussion on philosphies and doctrines of command responsibilities... It was our practice to pass essential information on our fire planning to the next higher HQ where it was coordinated, deconflicted, altered, consolidated with other units in that command & passed to the next HQ up. Both Bradley & Dolittle refer to a extended discussion of the 8AF bombers use on this specific target group. So, the 1st Army staff was in some fashion involved.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Richard Anderson » 01 Dec 2021 17:43

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
01 Dec 2021 17:00
Im starting to gather that. The picture painted here is one that would not have fit the training or practice of my peers.
I strongly suspect that is because you and your peers benefited from the knowledge gained in joint and combined operations in World War II, which refined practices that then were more or less off the cuff.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Dec 2021 21:26

Its looking like it. The reinvention of the wheel factor may certainly be occurring too over the last 75 years.

Nevetheless Im seeing a lot less here than I expected from a staff the size of First Army, and the time allowed. They were not distracted by IG or PhasMo inspections, current events, maintaining 25 year old vehicles, ect... all they had was one task here. We were concurrently planning two or three major evolutions. I have a feeling of looking behind the curtain and finding, well...

The proliferation of 'social history' has left us with a reasonable picture of the clock face, but not much about the mechanism behind it.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Dec 2021 14:32

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
03 Dec 2021 21:26
Its looking like it. The reinvention of the wheel factor may certainly be occurring too over the last 75 years.

Nevetheless Im seeing a lot less here than I expected from a staff the size of First Army, and the time allowed. They were not distracted by IG or PhasMo inspections, current events, maintaining 25 year old vehicles, ect... all they had was one task here. We were concurrently planning two or three major evolutions. I have a feeling of looking behind the curtain and finding, well...

The proliferation of 'social history' has left us with a reasonable picture of the clock face, but not much about the mechanism behind it.
You make a good point. The planning process behind the US side of the fireplan has not been well documented. Note the absence of a chapter on fire planning from Peter Caddick Adams' tome Sand and Steel.

WEv have some of this from the British point of view. I was fortunate to be directed to the Parham Papers by the old Firepower archivist. Recognising that this was a historic event, Parham kept a daily diary between January and 4th June 1944 - but that was Jack Parham. At some point I will try to publish this as it does show the variety of issues they were tackling in addiition to the fireplan. A lot of time was spent persuing ideas that led nowhere.

This was the artillery branch of Second Army, but I suspect similar issues would have absorbed the attention of branches in First Army.

#1 G1 (Personnel). Quite a bit of the high level staffing still needed to be sorted out. One individual offered as CRA 1st Airborne turned the appointment down. Someone's nomination as CCRA was unacceptable.

#2 The search for better observation on D Day. Parham - godfather of the Air OP, was unhappy with absence of air OPs on D Day. His terrain analysis of Normandy was that there were few natural observation positions in the lodgement area and air OPs would be key. He fought a lengthy paper battle with the Royal Navy to obtaoin an aircraft carrier from which to launch Air OPs on D Day. The RN eventually relented and offered Argus, but not until the end of May when it was too late. He fought another with the RAF to try to obtain the prototype Sikorsky helicopter to use on D Day from a landing craft - and failed. There were ideas about dropping a forelorn hope of OPs behind enemy lines - one stopped by Parham's HQ. Maybe s no one in Frist Army was obsessed to the same extent with air OPs, but there would have been somethign that someone was obsessed with.

#3 Adjudicating shipping loading. All subordinate units had overbid for the limited shipping available. There were several attempts to balance the demands of troops via suboordinate HQ with the changing allowance of shipping. This was not helped by some units or formations misunderstanding the loading rules and either ignoring the limitations of physical space and or weight. So varios bids had to be turned back.

#4 Air defence planning. A lot of time was spent on different aspects of joint combined air defence planning.
Much of this was new. Earlier landinsg had not drawn on the same level of air activity. How would the air defence organisation provide moment to moment control over AA guns ashore and afloat? How wpuld it step forwards? What part did smoke and balloons play and how were they integrated with the air plan? You could not simply release smoke to screen Mulberry Harbour while aircraft were landing on airstrios ashore. Parham produced a list of hypothetical scenarios as a basis for study. With the benefit of hindsoight we can ignore the air threat, nut they could not. Op Husky was a bad precedent and the Germans had shown off Salerno and Anzio that they were capable of springing surprises.

#5 Training was an issue for the units late to join the assault plan. British units arriving from the Mediteranean needed to go through assult training. That included HQ 30 Corps 50th Infantry and 7th Armoured Diviisons and 5 AGRA.

#6 Last minute additions. The disposable assult gun brigade - the Royal Marine Armoured Support Group needed to be raised, trained and its role agreed. The 987th FAB was dragged forwards from its very lowly position in the US deployment , rushed across the Atlantic and assigned to land with and support 30th Corps on D Day. THere was a fair amout of staff work.

#7 Implications of technical problems. Could US 155mm Long Tom guns be towed at the angle needed to land from a landing craft or will towing hooks need to be repositioned? Can the electrical problems with 20mm triple polsten AAA guns be resolved.

#8 Supply matters. Ammunition allocation, including the new APDS Anti tank rounds. Delayed deliveries of the 17 pounder M10 SP. I suspect the US may have had even bigger supply worries as Op Bolero was still acceleratign durign the first half of 1944.

Just a flavour of what they did all day long besides fireplanning.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Dec 2021 16:45

Doesn't take much to imagine all the supplemental staff added for this.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Dec 2021 18:35

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Dec 2021 16:45
Doesn't take much to imagine all the supplemental staff added for this.
I don't think that would have helped. More people tend to get in the way. Google Jim Storr and CN Parkinson for details. But maybe that was your point . :)

Artillery Branch Second Army was quite small - less than ten staff officers. They did draft in some officers from 80th AA Brigade to help with the air defence staff work

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Dec 2021 02:46

Sheldrake wrote:
04 Dec 2021 18:35
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Dec 2021 16:45
Doesn't take much to imagine all the supplemental staff added for this.
... But maybe that was your point . :)
Sort of. Managing reinforcements is a skill set.

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